Saint Lucia’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, highlighted the impact of crime on public health during a detailed PowerPoint presentation on Friday.
Belmar-George spoke at the Saint Lucia Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) awards ceremony at the Bay Gardens Hotel.
Her theme was ‘Crime As A Public Health Issue.’
Among the effects of crime on public health the CMO mentioned were competing resources limiting optimum management of chronic and other conditions due to admissions for injuries and violence and healthcare workforce stress from managing violent crime victims.
Belmar-George also told her audience about public safety concerns leading to the insecurity that impacts overall well-being and community health.
The senior Health Ministry official indicated that as a result, people might avoid outdoor activities, resulting in a sedentary lifestyle.
In addition, Belmar-George spoke of crime deterring business and investments in certain areas, resulting in economic disadvantages and limited access to resources, including healthcare.
Quoting police data, she disclosed that assaults accounted for 57% of the top five crimes against persons between 2012 and 2021.
Assault with a dangerous weapon accounted for 62% of all assaults
During the review period, wounding accounted for nineteen percent of the crimes.
The data also showed an increasing trend in homicides for the past ten years.
According to the RSLPF, so far this year, Saint Lucia has recorded 71 homicides.
Regarding recommendations to mitigate challenges based on the public health approach, Dr. Belmar-George highlighted the following:
•Policy: new or revised legislation
•Rehabilitation and Reintegration
•Strategic Information for Decision making
Additionally, in terms of Crime Prevention Strategies based on the Public Health Approach, she spoke of:
•Crime Hotspot Analysis
•Education and Awareness
•Victim Support Services
After her detailed presentation, Belmar-George shared the words of Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis.
Davis advocated a holistic approach to adequately addressing crime through economic growth and prosperity, legislative, judicial, police, and education reform.